Tampa Bay Buccaneers inspired by special guest, war veteran Brian Brennan
Lt. Brian Brennan has visited NFL teams before. He's met celebrities, and had his inspirational story told in front of national television audiences.
But at Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice Wednesday afternoon, Brennan may have experienced a first; he signed an autograph for an NFL player.
Brennan, a 25-year-old Riverview resident, lost both of his legs in Afghanistan due to a roadside bomb, and suffered brain injuries that put him in a coma for about three weeks in 2008. Given little chance to live, Brennan miraculously worked his way back to recovery. And he's since gone back to work at MacDill Air Force Base.
On Wednesday, Veteran's Day, Brennan was introduced at the end of practice to Bucs players, who thanked him for his sacrifice. And Bucs center Jeff Faine - who has had relatives in three different wars - went even further, pulling off his right knee brace (which has an American flag on it) and asked Brennan for an autograph.
"I never thought I’d ever do anything like that, especially for someone like him to give me his knee brace to sign," Brennan said. "I’d give him stuff for him to sign for me. It’s a whole different world. It meant a great deal. That he really did appreciate it that much and he really thinks about my story, to have me sign."
Bucs GM Mark Dominik invited Brennan to One Buc Place as part of Dominik's "Operation; Welcome Home" Veterans Day initiative. The Bucs are going to help renovate Brennan's home to make it handicap compatible.
Jimmy Wilkerson and Maurice Stovall visited the home Tuesday, and Brennan - a huge Notre Dame fan - was given Stovall's jersey. Brennan's presence hit home for Dominik, who has had family members in the military.
"You don't understand the fact that less than 1 percent of our country actually volunteers for our country, yet 99-percent of us sometimes take for granted what they've done," Dominik said. "Today is one of those days where we need to say, 'Thank you,' and just remind everybody of all the great things our military does for us."
- JOE SMITH